Friday, January 10, 2014

Stuffed Fish

Family party turns stupid.
 Over a fish!

    The family New Years Eve party at my house started out all right. Typical stuff. We’re sitting around the dining table snacking on dips and chips while talking about old times, old movies and getting old. Those are usually the big three.

At some point during the conversation, Larry brought up the story about the Christmas that Grandma Pearl sent us the stuffed fish. “You know, the huge swordfish?” That’s what he called it, a swordfish.

Anyone with any memory at all, realizes that Grandma didn’t send us a marlin. She sent us a stuffed tarpon. No pointed nose on a tarpon.  I wasn’t going to correct Larry, ‘cause Larry seldom gets anything right. He thinks Don Johnson once played Zorro.

So, let it go, Mark. That’s what I decided. But, Big Al? Alan let the comment hang there as long as he could. He was hoping I would be the one to correct Larry, but I had taken the wiser course of letting it go. Remember?

Alan finally said, “You do realize that the fish Grandmother Pearl sent was a tarpon and that it didn’t have a pointy nose?” – You would’ve thought he said that Disney World was in Dodge City. The rift in the family was wide and deep that night, my friend.

The three youngest Hayters ( Al, Jill and I) were the only ones who knew the truth. Larry and Dennis had apparently been hitting the mushroom dip too hard.

I eventually had to tell the real story about Pearl’s fish. I mentioned it to you several years ago? It was back in 1960, when Grandma Pearl informed us that she was sending the family a $100 Christmas present from Florida.

In 1960, $100 was like a gazillion. Dennis and I were thinking pool table or maybe a tree house kit. A giant crate did arrive a couple days before Christmas, and in it was a giant stuffed tarpon.

Disappointment hit the family as hard as when Mom donated all her Green Stamp books. Daddy knew that there was a chance a fish was on its way, but he refused to dash our hopes. You see, back in the fall, Pearl had sent a picture of her and her fourth husband standing behind a giant fish suspended from a mooring used for hanging giant fishes. She was so proud of her catch that she had the tarpon stuffed before realizing she had no place to hang it.

What better way to unload a monstrosity than to gift it to her only son? When Dad hauled the huge fish out of the crate, I was so disappointed that I cried. We didn’t need nor want a stuffed fish anymore than we wanted a two-headed mannequin in the kitchen.

    The fish ended up in Dennis’ and my bedroom. We used it to hide our valuables like coins, stamps and Nifty Coupons in its big mouth. I never knew what became of the fish, but the brother who thinks Don Johnson was Zorro said that Dad gave the “pointy-nosed” fish to Dr. Dawson, our family doctor.

There was no doubt in Larry’s mind about the nose of the fish. Dennis, the guy who had roomed with the fish for five years, thought the same thing. We even called our sister Sue in Washington State, and she, too, assured us that it was a marlin.

    Al had trouble holding it all together. He even Googled “ tarpon” on his phone and showed everyone a picture of a tarpon. Dennis and Larry both said that Pearl apparently lied when she said the fish was a tarpon, ‘cause what we had was a pointy nosed fish.

    Suddenly a notion struck Jill. Ka-whap! She reminded me that she had sent me some family pictures after Mom passed away and that she was sure I had the picture of Pearl with the fish. After an hour search, I found the picture of Grandma with the tarpon, and I passed it around.

    Larry took one look at the fish and said, “Yep, that’s a fish, but it’s not the one Grandma sent us.” Dennis said, “Wait a minute! That’s not even Grandma!” That’s how stubborn Hayter kids can be when they’re proved wrong.

    Things got pretty hairy that night. We tried to let the disagreement not spoil the festivities, but that was near impossible. I don’t suffer stupidity well, and Al suffers it not at all. While watching the A&M game, different ones kept making silly references to fish. – “Whoa, that guy runs like a hooked marlin.” And “Hey, did the Miami Tarpons make it the playoffs?”

    There’s no question that we’re all going to get over this, but the topic will surface at future gatherings. I guarantee it. And, I seriously hope there will be many more of those, ‘cause we’re family. You couldn’t bust us up any more than you could change Larry, Susan or Dennis’ mind. – That being said, happy 2014. And, that comes from all the Hayters… including the ones who are nuts.

End
Mark@rooftopwriter.com

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely love it!! -- jilly --

    ReplyDelete